Suspended below a pine tree canopy in Italy, John Grade’s installation “Reservoir” appears like a stunning outdoor chandelier. Consisting of 5,000 clear “droplets,” it interacts with nature, enabling individuals to visualize the effect of rain and snow.
Inspired by constantly changing natural forms and ecosystems, Grade sculpts large-scale installations that examine the evanescence of nature. Regarding his most recent piece, called Reservoir, Grade visualizes the patterns of forest rainfall with a enormous web construction hanging between the trees. The waterless sculpture in its initial configuration weighs about 35 kilos, but when filled with rainwater, it can exceed 350 kilos.
The installation consists of a collection of five thousand delicate rainwater-collection droplets. Every single droplet is heat-formed and framed in steam-bent wood by hand and is attached to one of two clear filament nets hanging from the trees. The glassy amassment conveys a continuously transforming volume. As rainwater or snow builds up in the droplets, the position and shape of the nets lower and shift. As the accumulated water evaporates, the shape returns to its original state. The up and down range is restricted by sheathed springs below pulleys so the sculpture remains at least three meters above the ground.
“I came up with the idea for the project by spending long periods of time simply sitting and walking through the forest at Arte Sella sculpture park and thinking through exactly why it felt so good to be there. The quiet sounds of rainfall on the forest floor were my initial point of inspiration,” said John Grade. “I was initially worried that birds might accidentally fly into the net structure and get caught and hurt. So we did tests with different types of netting and by using a very fine net we have had no problems with birds or any other type of animals. I think the shine of the droplet parts also repels birds from flying into the sculpture.”
Human motion additionally influences the sculpture’s visual appearance. As part of the project, Arte Sella connected Grade with Andrea Rampazzo, a dance artist based in Italy. During the exhibition, four dancers moved around the sculpture, pulling and releasing each tree line to create varied movements in the artwork. Reservoir is featured in the Arte Sella Sculpture Park in Borgo Valsugana, Italy.